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The house on mango street covers a year in the neighborhood of esperanza cordero. A a young chicana hovering in the ambiguous. Difficult liminal space between childhood and adulthood in introduction esperanza corderos parents buy a small red house on mango street part of an urban latino neighborhood after years of moving from apartment to apartment the shabby.
Little house is nothing like esperanzas dream home. Which is tidy quiet and completely her own in the rising action esperanzas first friend cathy. A white girl warns esperanza.
They can only be friends for a little while because her family is moving. According to cathy. The quality of the neighbors is going downhill meaning white people are as is tragically and historically the case.
Fleeing people of color soon after esperanza befriends sisters. Lucy. And rachel esperanza along with her little sister nanny.
Rachel and lucy roamed the neighborhood. Together. And esperanza introduces the reader to the rest of her neighbors.
Telling stories about the men and boys in the neighborhood. Though. Her focus is primarily on the lives of women esperanza thinks a lot about what it means to be a woman particularly in the barrio.
Most of the women she knows stay in their homes. All day watching the world go by through their windows as they wait for their husbands to come home. But esperanza isnt immune to the thrill.
Accompanying the stares of men and boys in the neighborhood. When she rachel and lucy stomp down the street in secondhand high heels. They find the power intoxicating until a bum coaxes rachel over and asks her to kiss him soon after an older man grabs esperanza and kisses her without her consent.
But women are not the only ones to struggle in the novel. The challenges of other nests and alienation also applies to immigrants in one heartbreaking case mexican immigrant geraldo is tragically killed in a hit and run and authorities dont seem to care at all esperanza gravitates toward sali. A girl at school known for her good looks rumors whispered about her in the boys locker room which have fueled her fathers controlling abuse toward her but esperanza envies sallys style and attitude esperanza is humiliated early in their friendship when she tried to protect sally from boys teasing her for a kiss.
Sally always chooses the boys company over esperanza and in the climax of the novel this leads to esperanza rape at a local carnival. The experience is almost too horrible for esperanza to talk about and she is furious with sally not only for leaving her alone to go off with another boy. But also for filling her head with lies about how great sex can be in the falling action.
Sally gets. Married even. Though.
Shes not even in eighth grade esperanza meets. Three elderly sisters who read her palm. They can tell she will leave mango street someday and remind her she must always return they help esperanza.
Understand that mango street is a part of who she is she will never be able to escape it so she should embrace it instead in the resolution of the novel esperanza vows to come back to mango street to help those who arent able to leave music. The house on mango street depicts a neighborhood filled with character and these are the characters who bring it to life esperanza. Cordero is the narrator and the oldest of four children.
Her age is never explicitly stated. But shes somewhere between childhood and teenage years she and her family live on mango street. An urban neighborhood in a city resembling chicago esperanza feels confined by the primarily latino neighborhood and she longs to grow up so she can move away and find a place that feels more like home.
She hopes to be a writer someday esperanza is kind just as likely to forge relationships with the outcasts. As she is with the popular kids she has a knack for seeing the goodness in the residents and those around her who might otherwise be ignored. Slightly wary around the older neighborhood boys.
Esperanza is torn between wanting them to notice her and wanting to blend in navigating where childhood ends where adulthood begins in which side of the shifting divide. She wants to be on nanny cordero is the youngest of the cordero children. It is esperanzas responsibility to look out for her younger sister when theyre in the neighborhood and as such she considers many to be more responsibility than friend esperanza is sometimes embarrassed by nannys behavior.
But there are also times when she welcomes nannies point of view often when it aligns with her own sally is around the same age as esperanza. But their maturity levels are different. While less parantha still wants to play games with the younger neighborhood kids sally is focused on attracting the attention of the teenage boys.
According to esperanza sally is gorgeous with long black hair and eyes like egypt. Sallys father also recognizes his daughters attractiveness. Which is why he insists she be home when shes not at school sally has a reputation among the boys at school esperanza wants to be sallys friend.
Because she thinks they both might want more out of life than the barrio can offer them.
But sally just wants to leave her fathers home. Even if it means getting married. Before.
Shes even in high school. Rachel is younger. And more gregarious than her sister lucy.
She does all the talking for the pair. And shes the one who first approaches esperanza in search of five dollars. So she and lucy can buy a bike from tita.
Rachel is too young to know to be cautious around older men. Lucy is the quieter of the two sisters. But like esperanza.
She looks out for her younger sibling. She drags rachel away from a bum. Sitting in front of the tavern.
And she hides the high heels underneath the porch. So they cant get the girls into any more trouble esperanza really likes lucy. But she seems to forget all about her and rachel.
When sally comes along marine is about esperanzas age and was sent from her home in puerto rico to live with her cousins family in chicago. She sells makeup and spends much of her time sharing wisdom about boys and feminine wiles. Her cousins family considers her a bad influence and sends her back to puerto rico.
After a year music high heels. The monkey garden and for skinny trees are the important symbols in the urban wonderland. The comprises.
The house on mango street. When lucy rachel and esperanza get three pairs of old high heels. The new shoes make the girls feel grown up and they begin attracting attention as they clack their way through the barrio esperanza.
And her friends feel attractive and desirable for the first time in their lives and the power is thrilling the high heels represent their awakening as sexual beings and their transition from girlhood to womanhood they vow never to wear any other type of shoe ever again. But their excitement wears off when they meet the bum in front of the neighborhood tavern. Who doesnt just compliment them.
He wanted them to kiss him the shoes suddenly dont feel so great and the girls run home and hide them the girls realized how dangerous their newfound sexuality can be and the act of hiding the shoes. Which are soon thrown away reflects their decision to remain children a little bit longer as they arent ready to deal with the sexually charged dangers inherent to womanhood music the overgrown monkey garden described in chapter 38 is symbolic of childhood esperanza and sally are both of an age where theyre not kids anymore. But theyre also not adults esperanza is not yet ready for adulthood.
So she prefers to play in the garden with the younger neighborhood kids. But sally who wants to be a grown up hangs out on the curb with tito and his friends. Unlike esperanza.
She wants the boys to view her as an object of desire esperanza returns to the curb to find sally being teased by the boys who all want her to kiss them esperanza wants to forget the dangerous and adult implications of what sally is going to do with the boys and naturally gravitates to the place in her life. That she most associates with being young and innocent instead she emerges from the garden. Realizing it didnt seem to be hers either propelled out of childhood.
The monkey garden no longer feels like home. Because she no longer feels like a child music. The four skinny trees standing in front of esperanzas house are symbolic of esperanza herself with their skinny necks and point elbows.
The trees are reminiscent of esperanza in appearance and circumstance like esperanza. They do not belong here. But are here trees arent meant to grow in concrete just as esperanza believes.
She isnt meant to stay in the barrio. Yet the trees and esperanza manage to survive and even thrive in the urban setting the secret to their strength is in their deep roots in esperanzas case. The roots are metaphorical mango street is in her blood.
She grows strong there because of the support she receives from her family and friends just like the trees stay strong by grabbing the earth between their hairy toes. These figurative and literal roots keep esperanza and the trees grounded as they stretch for the smallest sliver of bright blue sky above music lives of women home identity and sexual awakening are the coming of age themes. Upon.
Which the essential novel. The house on mango street is built esperanza makes note of everyone who lives on mango street. But shes especially interested in the women who live there what she sees isnt exactly heartening.
Women are second class citizens on mango street from childhood.
Theyre taught to aspire to marriage and motherhood. Which they consider their ticket to a better way of life esperanza doesnt buy into the fairy tale of marriage on mango street. Because there is no evidence that its a good thing nearly all the married women.
She knows are desperately unhappy and abused no matter their beauty or intelligence women are always under the control of men whether it be their husbands or fathers what exactly is a home esperanza. Thinks home is a physical location. But it has to have a certain feeling of comfort peace and a little bit of luxury esperanza resents.
The house on mango street. Because it looks nothing like her dream house. Though she knows.
Its the best her family can do her dream house will always be that a dream. But esperanza eventually realizes that shes confusing house and home mango street is her home because its part of her by the end of the novel esperanza hasnt changed her ideas about having a house of her own. But she now understands her home will follow her wherever she goes.
Many of the characters in the house on mango street struggle with their identity often trying to reconcile their american present with their latino heritage mamacita is one great example. A recent immigrant to the united states. She insists on using only her native language.
But she cannot control the identity of her young son who quickly picks up english by watching american television. His americanization makes him different from her and it breaks her heart esperanza struggles with her identity are focused more on her stage of life than her ethnicity adolescents for esperanza wavers between feeling like a child and like an adult eventually esperanza comes to realize her only way forward is to approach adult on her own terms. Which means focusing on her dreams of leaving.
The barrio sexual awakening is a key theme on mango streets and esperanza notices herself becoming more interested in boys. Her age and those who are a little older imagining what its like to have ones full romantic attention. She anticipates the rounding of her hips as a symbol of her transformation into a sexual being esperanzas newfound interest in sex and boys as exciting.
But its also scary shes beginning to understand the dangers associated with female sexuality. Particularly in how men view women beautiful. Women on mango street are simultaneously viewed as madonnas and whores idolized for their appearance.
But feared for the damage. They could do to a mans reputation. The boys at the carnival claimed esperanzas body as if it did not belong to her at all esperanzas experiences and those of her friends teach her to guard herself against the men who wish to control her sexuality music women by windows names and sky are the key motifs recurring in the incredible novel.
The house on mango street. Many of the married women in the house on mango street have to resign themselves with looking out the windows instead of leaving their houses or apartments esperanzas great grandmother used to be wild. But after she married she looked out the window her whole life because of marriage.
She couldnt be all the things she wanted to be rafaela. Minerva and sally also all have to stay inside after marriage to their husbands act as if its for their protection. But its really because they feel threatened by their wives beauty and sexuality in esperanzas estimation marriage leads to a loss of freedom and independence she doesnt want to become one of the many women who sit there sadness on an elbow trapped in their homes by marriage vows and watching everyone live their lives their plates are what esperanza is trying to avoid names are of particular importance motif wise in the house on mango street esperanza realizes early on in the novel that a name isnt just something to call oneself.
Its an identity. She doesnt like her name because it ties her to her great grandmother whose life came to a halt after marrying. She would rather be called something dramatic such as zz.
The x. Which she thinks better represents who she is than esperanza. She doesnt make the connection between her given name and its english meaning.
Oh esperanza has enormous hope for herself leaving the barrio becoming a writer and finding a home. She can call her own esperanza is one of the only characters in the book. With just one first name some people such as nanny have nicknames while others have different names in spanish and english these characters have dual identities magdalena is a dutiful girl while at school but she comes home and becomes fun and carefree.
Many esperanza appears to envy people who have more than one name because they get to present different parts of themselves at different times. Esperanza points out in chapter 16 s. Have 30 different names for snow.
Because snow is so important to them even clouds arent just clouds. They are cumulus nimbus and several more following that line of thinking people should have dozens of different names to represent every facet of their personality. Having only one is too confining esperanza believes one can never have too much sky.
But on mango street. There is too much sadness and not enough sky. It is hard to see the sky in esperanzas urban neighborhood.
But theres plenty of sky where her father works in the fancy neighborhoods on the tops of hills. Those with money can afford to be close to the stars. While the poor have to live too much on earth with tall buildings blocking their view.
Her longing to leave the barrio parallels her longing for more sky you music. .
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